Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Presentation of Plans for a Park in Johnson City, Texas.

August 27, 1965

Lady Bird, Mr. Linen, my beloved friends of Johnson City:

This is a very proud moment for me and I deeply appreciate, Mr. Linen, what you are doing for this wonderful little city that is made up of so many good people.

It is going to be through public-spirited citizens and public-spirited businesses that we make this great land of ours a more beautiful land in the years ahead.

I have heard a lot of talk during my 35 years in public life about the power of the press, and particularly the power of Life, Time, Fortune, and a few other publications associated with you. But as I look out this afternoon at this vacant lot and I see this beautiful sketch of what it is going to be a few months from now, I am made aware for the first time of the real power of the press to make the trees grow and the flowers bloom. And we welcome it, Mr. Linen.

I guess I shouldn't tell this story, but a friend of mine many years ago was indicted for buying poll taxes down in San Antonio. And they put the witnesses on the stand, and they produced the women that went to the table to pick up their half dollar pieces, they produced the taxicab fellow that took him to the bank where he got the money in a sack, they produced the banker that distributed the half dollars in return for a check from David Dubinsky in New York. And it was about that time that my friend Mayor Maverick sent for me and asked to borrow my lawyer, and the testimony was already in.

The case was made and it was just a matter of moments until the jury rendered its verdict, and my dear, beloved friend Senator Wirtz was called upon to make the argument of defense without ever having heard all the testimony. But he read it quickly, and he said the Mavericks had made a great contribution to Texas. They fought at the Alamo. They had served in our various governments for many years. The then mayor had been a distinguished Member of Congress, and here he was on trial. On trial for what? For being the first man in Texas that could go north and meet this Yankee, David Dubinsky, and get some of that money that we have been sending up there all these years, and bring it back to Texas. And not use it for himself, not appropriate it to his own comforts, but rather to take it and permit poor women to have their very first vote and to have the right of franchise. And he said, "I would think instead of trying him and committing him to a penitentiary that we ought to build a monument to him out here in front of the Alamo!"

Now, I don't know how Mrs. Johnson has gone to New York and got you to come down here, but it is a great tribute, I think, to both of you--one, that she would want to go up there and get you, and, next, that you would want to come. And I just can't think of anything that makes me more pleased on my birthday.

Birthdays are a time for reflection, and I have been reflecting all day--with the maritime workers, and with the steelworkers, and the steel companies, with the boys out in Viet-Nam, and some people down in the Dominican Republic, with the spacemen that are circling the globe, and a good many other things--and I have been reflecting all day just how I was finally going to get here to spend the evening with Lady Bird. Because, in case you have not heard it yet, she is rather interested in beautification. And it appears that she not only wants people to say it with flowers, she wants them also to say it with trees. I hope when we meet here again that we'll have more trees and more flowers here on this somewhat rather sacred spot.

I have been trying to see Ohlen Cox out here. I don't know whether he is here this afternoon or not. But I remember--about where that boy is with that orange shirt on there--Ohlen chasing me from in front of that garage and catching me there. He was wrestling with a fellow and they were trying to put each other's shoulders to the mat, and I ran up and kicked both of them while they were down. And he took off after me, and he said, "I'm going to spank you all the way from the garage to your house"--which is right up there.

And he started out, and I was showing the effects of his spanking in a rather loud voice, and my dear old friend, Bud Winters' home was here then--right over there--and as we crossed his front yard and he heard this yelling, he came out on the porch and he stopped Ohlen, and he separated us. And while he and Ohlen were continuing their conversation, I excused myself and went on home.

And little did I recognize then that some day, through the generous spirit and the prosperity of the Time and Life publications, that they would come here and build a beautiful park where the good people--the young people who are here could enjoy it in the daytime, and those in the twilight of their career could come here and sit under its trees on comfortable benches amidst beautiful surroundings and enjoy it in the twilight of the evening of their lives.

It is a great day, and thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 4:45 p.m. at the site of the future park in Johnson City, Tex. In his opening words he referred to Mrs. Johnson and James A. Linen, president of Time Inc. During his remarks he referred to David Dubinsky, president of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, Maury Maverick, mayor of San Antonio 1939-1941, and Alvin J. Wirtz, Texas State senator 1922-1930 and Under Secretary of the Interior January 1940 - May 1941.

The park, located one block from the President's boyhood home, was a gift from Life magazine. It was presented to the town of 611 people as a part of Mrs. Johnson's beautification program.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Presentation of Plans for a Park in Johnson City, Texas. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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